Despite the general use of employment interviews in personnel selection, we know very little about how interviewers are trained and whether interviewer training influences the way interviews are conducted (Campion, Palmer & Campion, 1997; Cogger, 1982; Palmer, Campion & Green, 1999). Interview practitioners and researchers agree that formal interviewer training is crucial to successful recruiting and selection practices. Researchers believe that formal training can be used to improve a variety of interviewer tasks, including establishing valid criteria for job analysis, evaluating candidates more effectively (Day & Sulsky, 1995) and improving rapport (Gatewood, Lahiff, Deter & Hargrove, 1989) and the recruiting function of the interview (Chapman & Rowe, 2002; Rynes, 1989).
Despite agreement on the need for interviewer training, the extent to which interviewers receive training and whether this training is effective remain overlooked topics in the research literature (Palmer et al., 1999). Surprisingly, studies have been mixed regarding the efficacy of training in increasing interview rater effectiveness (Palmer et al., 1999). Rynes (1989) discussed the duality of the employment interview as both a selection device and a recruiting tool. Rynes hypothesized that there might be differences in the extent to which interviewers focus on the selection function of the interview or the recruiting function. Researchers believe that these roles may conflict with each other in that a greater focus on selection has the potential to reduce the attractiveness of the organization, while a greater focus on recruiting can reduce the validity of the selection decision (Chapman & Rowe, 2002). Barber, Hollenbeck, Tower and Phillips (1994) manipulated the interview focus so that applicants received either a recruitment interview or an interview that combined recruitment and selection elements. The study found that student applicants for a part-time research assistant position reacted more positively to a combined recruitment and selection interview than those who received only a recruitment interview. These results suggest the importance of interviewer training and how direction of focus can potentially be a liability for the interviewer and the organization as a whole.